Today I am Thankful for...My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
I have been saving this post for the end of my 25 days of thanks journey because it is what I am MOST thankful for.
When I was ten years old, my parents divorced. I was a happy-go-lucky kid without a care in the world. Yep, the divorce was hard, but my parents did it the right way...they showed me love through the entire thing. They made sure I knew it had nothing to do with me and my mom even helped my dad set up the place where he would be living. They spent a day moving him in and setting up his place with things that were familiar to me.
I began spending every other weekend with my dad and a lot more time with my Granny & Papa. One weekend, they took me with them to church camp. I had been to church off and on while growing up but never had been to Sunday school and certainly had never spent a weekend away from home with a church group. One of my great aunts decided that I had reached the age where I was ready to be "saved" so they brought me down to the front of the room where they were preaching and people began to pray over me. I had never been quite so scared in all my life. Needless to say, I didn't want to go to church for a long time after that. No one ever explained to me what being "saved" was and I didn't see what I needed to be "saved" from. Regardless of how traumatic that may have seemed to me at the time, it was what started me asking questions. I remember all of a sudden I was afraid to go out into the dark to feed my dogs at night. I was scared of different sounds, and I didn't know what would happen to me if I were to die.
One night on our way home from a Christmas program, I asked my mom what being "saved" was all about. She explained to me in terms that I could understand:
She asked me if I did things that were wrong
(yes, I had told many a lies when I ate candy before dinner)
She asked me if I believed Jesus was real and he died for me
(yes, I had heard that story all my life and never once doubted)
She asked me if I knew where I would go when I died
(no! I didn't and that scared me).
She calmly explained that if we trusted and believed in Jesus and asked him to be our savior, he would come live in our hearts and we wouldn't have to be afraid of what would happen to us any more, HE would take care of us and when we died, we would be with Him in heaven. I remember thinking "that's all being saved is? All I have to do is pray and tell Jesus I messed up, I believe in Him, and I want to follow Him?" It was so easy! She asked me if I wanted to pray to ask Jesus to save me and I did right then and there in the car on the interstate.
It was amazing! I wasn't scared anymore. I felt completely at ease and confident. I wasn't afraid to go back to church with my dad and the happy-go-lucky girl returned. I have no doubt that was the moment that Christ came into my heart but it took me many years of searching to realize the true weight of my decision that night. Not being in church regularly, and not attending Sunday school, I didn't have guidance as to MY responsibility as someone who had accepted Jesus's free gift of salvation. I of course began to flounder and it wasn't until I was in high school that I began to find my way back to the Lord.
I wanted so badly to be popular so I looked at the girls who were popular and asked what they all had in common. Though it shouldn't, it sometimes amazes me what the Lord chooses to use to get your attention. At the time, they were all going to a certain church who held revivals quite often (it wasn't until later that I discovered going to church was just a disguise for the things they did afterward). It was then that I found my Bible. I started reading it and all of a sudden verses started coming alive to me. The first verse I ever remember reading and applying was "Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, Giving thanks to God the Father through Him." WOW! I am supposed to do what JESUS did? This was life altering for me. God began revealing himself to me in so many ways.
I started going to church with my dad every Sunday and I started going to Sunday school. I was saddened to hear the kids in my class talking about all of the partying they had done the night before, bad-mouthing other people in the church, and even the Sunday school teacher then turn on the smiles as soon as our teacher entered. I knew from what I had been reading in my Bible, this wasn't how God's people were supposed to be. I wanted to do what HE wanted me to so I prayed. I felt disconnected from Him and started to feel that uneasiness return. I had never joined the church or been baptized so I thought maybe that was what was missing. At 16, with God's guidance and no one else's, I made the decision to join my Daddy's church (my mom wasn't attending a church) in obedience to the Lord. I was baptized in a cool swimming pool on a hot summer day. That act in and of itself did not save me, but it did allow me to publicly announce that I believed in Jesus as my savior. I wanted NOTHING to separate me from Him and wanted to be fully obedient to Him. It was a way for me to throw my insecurities aside and admit that He was and is everything to me. If he publicly died on a cross for me, being dunked in a little water was the very least I could do for Him!
I am so thankful that my faith is not based on my parent's faith or anyone else's. It was through God's guidance and soul searching on my part that I came to have a personal relationship with my Savior. He has seen me through so many things. I can look back on my life so far and see His hand on my life in so many ways. I have NOT lived a perfect life. I have made my fair share of mistakes and fail to give the Lord my all each day. One thing I DO know is that Jesus died for ME. He loves me and wants what is best for me. I owe everything I am and everything I have to Him because without Him, I am nothing.